Vehicle Type: SUV
History/Description: The second generation of Nissan’s tough-as-nails 4×4 that focused on adventure, power and ruggedness for shoppers who frequent the road less travelled. Competing with off-road capable models like the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota 4Runner and last-generation Ford Explorer, Xterra amounted to an American-built Japanese 4×4 with an abundant selection of equipment for confidence and peace of mind over any terrain.
Xterra rides Nissan’s F-Alpha truck platform and features shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case. Feature content included Bluetooth, Rockford Fosgate audio, satellite radio and more.
Used models will have remote access, cruise control, and plenty of interior storage and flexibility. Folding seats and numerous storage bins make room for nearly any combination of passengers and cargo. Shoppers can add a trip computer, satellite radio, auto-dimming mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel by opting for one of Xterra’s higher-end trim levels.
Off-road safety is enhanced by Nissan’s Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist functions available in certain years, while antilock brakes, stability control and an advanced airbag system were standard. Additionally, tow-hooks were fitted for owners who somehow manage to get stuck.
Engines / Trim: Look for a 4.0L, 261 hp V6 engine, available six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions, and several model grades to fine-tune the Xterra to a variety of needs and tastes. Go for the Off-Road or PRO-4X package, for instance, for Bilstein high-performance gas shocks and skid plates, as well as other add-ons. These off-road ready packages also included a locking rear differential, which is strongly advised if you’re planning to use your Xterra in winter.
What Owners Like: Current owners say they love their Xterra’s commanding forward view of the road, as well as its stable and planted driving feel, all-weather confidence and safe, sturdy demeanor. It’s become popular with retirees, pet owners and even young professionals who enjoy the outdoors on weekends.
What Owners Dislike: As it tends to go with this type of vehicle, most complaints centre around heavy fuel consumption, and others include poor rearward visibility, blind-spots, a rough and jiggly ride on some models and potentially-uncomfortable headrests. Some drivers also wish for easy entry and exit, on account of Xterra’s relatively small door openings and tall step-in height.
Here are some owner reviews
The Test Drive: Start your test-drive by examining the used Xterra candidate’s paint job, as some owners have reported disappointing durability from the paint and finish. Rust, if present, will likely appear on the lower inner and outer edges of the tailgate and doors, or at the edge of the hood. Be on the lookout for low-quality paint touchups and body work.
Key issues in owner forums revolve around a leak from the radiator and automatic transmission cooler, which allows coolant and transmission fluid to mix within both systems. This can cause a world of issues, including cooling system and transmission failure in extreme cases. Best defense? Drive the automatic-equipped Xterra with an eye for transmission trouble signs, including hard shifting, slamming into gear, slippage and the like.